Book: Capek Karel «Rossum's Universal Robots»

Rossum's Universal Robots

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Determined to liberate the mass-produced but highly intelligent robots forged in the machinery of Rossum's island factory, Helena Glory arrives in a blaze of righteousness. Soon perplexed by the robots seeming humanity but absolute lack of sentience, she deserts her strident campaigning and falls in love with Domin, the factory's General Manager. Yet even as their life on the island appears to become more comfortable, the tide is turning against the humans - Drawing huge international attention following its original production in 1921, Rossum's Universal Robots was a strikingly prescient meditation on the themes of humanity and subjugation that were to dominate the twentieth century. Seen as a precursor to works including Huxley's Brave New World, it is a true classic of the dystopian genre, and remains all too resonant in today's political climate.

Издательство: "Hesperus" (2011)

ISBN: 978-1-84391-459-4

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Capek, Karel

Ča·pek (chäʹpĕk'), Karel. 1890-1938.

Czech writer noted for his science fiction, such as the play R.U.R. (1921), and his psychologically penetrating novels, including An Ordinary Life (1934).

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born Jan. 9, 1890, Malé Svatoňovice, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary
died Dec. 25, 1938, Prague, Czech.

Czech novelist, short-story writer, and playwright.

Čapek's "black utopias," works showing the dangers of technological progress, include the cautionary play R.U.R.: Rossum's Universal Robots (1920), a depiction of a society dependent on mechanical workers called robots (a term he coined from a Czech word for forced labour). The comic fantasy The Insect Play (1921; with his brother Josef) satirizes human greed. The Makropoulos Affair (1922) was made into an opera by Leoš Janác̆ek. Čapek explored aspects of knowledge in the novel trilogy Hordubal (1933), Meteor (1934), and An Ordinary Life (1934).

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▪ Czech writer
born Jan. 9, 1890, Malé Svatoňovice, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary [now in Czech Republic]
died Dec. 25, 1938, Prague, Czech.
 Czech novelist, short-story writer, playwright, and essayist.

      The son of a country doctor, Čapek suffered all his life from a spinal disease, and writing seemed a compensation. He studied philosophy in Prague, Berlin, and Paris and in 1917 settled in Prague as a writer and journalist. From 1907 until well into the 1920s, much of his work was written with his brother Josef, a painter, who illustrated several of Karel's books.

      Almost all Čapek's literary works are inquiries into philosophical ideas. The early short stories—in Zářivé hlubiny (with Josef, 1916; “The Luminous Depths”), Krakonošova zahrada (with Josef, 1918; “The Garden of Krakonoš”), and Trapné povídky (1921; in Money and Other Stories, 1929)—are mainly concerned with man's efforts to break out of the narrow circle of destiny and grasp ultimate values. Another series of works presents Čapek's “black utopias,” showing how scientific discoveries and technological progress tempt man into titanic rebellions. Thus, in the play R.U.R.: Rossum's Universal Robots (published 1920, performed 1921), a scientist discovers the secret of creating humanlike machines that are more precise and reliable than human beings. Years later the machines dominate the human race and threaten it with extinction, though at the last moment it is saved. For this play Čapek invented the word “ robot,” deriving it from the Czech word for forced labour.

      Other works, following the pattern of R.U.R., include the novel Továrna na absolutno (1922; The Absolute at Large); Krakatit (1924; An Atomic Phantasy); and Válka s mloky (1936; The War with the Newts).

      In another vein, Čapek's comic fantasy Ze života hmyzu (with Josef, 1921; The Insect Play) satirizes human greed, complacency, and selfishness, emphasizing the relativity of human values and the need to come to terms with life. His faith in democracy made him support his friend Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk (Masaryk, Tomáš (Garrigue)) and write a biography of him. The quest for justice inspired most of the stories in Povídky z jedné kapsy and Povídky z druhé kapsy (both 1929; published together as Tales from Two Pockets).

      The problem of identity and the mystery of people's underlying motivations are the theme of Čapek's most mature work, a trilogy of novels that together present three aspects of knowledge. Hordubal (1933) contrasts an inarticulate man's awareness of the causes of his actions with the world's incomprehension; Povětroň (1934; Meteor) illustrates the subjective causes of objective judgments; and Obyčejný život (1934; An Ordinary Life) explores the complex layers of personality underlying the “self” an “ordinary” man thinks himself to be.

      The growing threat posed by Nazi Germany to Czechoslovakia's independent existence in the mid-1930s prompted Čapek to write several works intended to warn and mobilize his countrymen. The realistic novel Prvni parta (1937; The First Rescue Party) stressed the need for solidarity. In his last plays the appeal became more direct. Bílá nemoc (1937; Power and Glory) presented the tragedy of the noble pacifist; and Matka (1938; The Mother) vindicated armed resistance to barbaric invasion.

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Источник: Capek, Karel

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